Kent County Council is to trial five feeder services to replace or supplement existing rural bus routes. The proposals emanate from the council’s ‘big conversation’ consultation with parish councils and communities earlier this year (Buses March).
In the east of the county, a new off-peak route will link five villages near Sandwich, which lost regular services when Stagecoach withdrew service 14 in September last year. They will offer interchange with Stagecoach routes to Canterbury, Sandwich, Deal and Dover.
A scheduled taxibus service will connect Tenterden with its outlying rural villages, though concessionary passes will not be valid. A second taxibus will operate in and around Sevenoaks. Public consultation was not in favour of demand responsive options.
In Maidstone, routes 13 and 59 — serving villages to the south and east — will be replaced by a more frequent link that will only run to the edge of Maidstone, where passengers would change to one of eight Arriva journeys each hour to reach the town centre. A similar small bus will replace all but school journeys on route 58 to the west of the county town, with connections made at Lunsford Park via Arriva’s quarter-hourly 71/a service.
Further local consultation will take place ahead of the anticipated implementation in mid-2019. New shelters and real-time information are promised at the interchange stops.